Jane Van Ryan
Posted May 25, 2010
BP CEO Tony Hayward yesterday told reporters he is "devastated" that oil from the Macondo well has reached the Gulf shoreline.
"We are doing everything in our power to respond in the right way," he added.
BP officials also briefed the U.S. Department of the Interior on the initial findings of its review into the causes of the Deepwater Horizon tragedy. In a news release, the company explained that it has not reached "final conclusions," but it has identified issues that need further investigation.
Despite redundant control procedures and equipment that should have prevented the explosions and fire and reduced the oil spill, questions have emerged about:
- The cement that seals the reservoir from the well.
- The casing system which seals the well bore.
- The pressure tests to confirm the well is sealed.
- The execution of procedures to detect and control hydrocarbons in the well, including the use of the blowout preventer (BOP).
- The BOP Emergency Disconnect System, which can be activated by pushing a button at multiple locations on the rig.
- The automatic closure of the BOP after its connection is lost with the rig.
- Features in the BOP to allow Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROV) to close the BOP and thereby seal the well at the seabed after a blow out.
"I understand people want a simple answer about why this happened and who is to blame. The honest truth is that this is a complex accident, caused by an unprecedented combination of failures," Hayward said.
Hayward also pledged $500 million to fund 10 years of research on the Macondo well and its effects on marine life.
Today BP is completing the preparatory work required before attempting a "top kill," in which heavy drilling fluids are pumped into the well to stop of the flow of oil and natural gas into the Gulf. Watch the animation below to see how a "top kill" works.
The company also reports that it is considering several other "interventions," including a lower marine riser package (LMRP) cap system. In the LMRP, ROVs would remove the riser from the BOP, leaving a clean cut that could be fitted with a containment device capable of sending the captured oil and natural gas to the surface through a new riser extending from a drilling rig.
BP says several well-plugging and/or containment methods could be applied during the next week.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jane Van Ryan was formerly senior communications manager and new media advisor at the American Petroleum Institute (API), where she wrote blog posts and produced podcasts and videos. Before coming to API, Jane managed communications for a large science and engineering corporation, and for a top-tier research and engineering university. A few years ago, you might have seen her in your living room when she delivered the news on television. Jane officially retired from API in 2011 and now freelances as an independent communications consultant when not gardening at her farm in Virginia.